Israel is a country that restricts immigration; its doors are open only to a limited amount of people that fall under the “Law of Return 1950,” or under the law of “Entry into Israel 1952.” While those that qualify under the law of return and spouses of Israeli Citizens have several options available to them to settle in Israel, this is not the case for the rest of the foreigners that are interested in remaining in Israel. However, requests for temporary residency and permanent residency based on humanitarian reasons are occasionally approved. An example of granting residency based on humanitarian reasons is the case of a single and elderly parent of an Israeli citizen. The procedure starts by submitting a request to the Ministry of Interior (“MOI”). Because this process is meant to offer the possibility of residency based on humanitarian reasons, not all foreign parents of Israeli citizens qualify. The requirements and conditions that follow are an overview of the rulings and customary practices of the MOI.
Submitting a residency request for an elderly and single parent
Requests pertaining to the status of an elderly parent can be found in section 1(b) of the “Entry into Israel Law 1952.”
The purpose of the procedure is to allow Israeli citizens whose parents meet the criteria to be granted status in Israel as an elderly, single parent of an Israeli citizen (Procedure number 5.2.0033).
This is meant to assist Israeli citizens, with foreign parents that desire to come to Israel for humanitarian reasons, so that the Israeli citizens will not be forced to leave their parents to grow old alone. At the same time, what should also be considered is that providing a foreign parent status in Israel entails additional expenses such as state social benefits and subsidized health insurance.
An Israeli citizen may invite a single, elderly parent, provided that they meet the following criteria:
1. The elderly parent is a parent over the age of 65 for a woman and over 67 for a man.
2. The parent has no other children abroad, and is alone in his/her home country.
3. The parent may not have resided illegally in Israel for a period longer than 6 months.
4. If an application was granted on the basis of false or forged documents, it will not be accepted.
If all of these conditions are met, and the applicant and his/her parents provides the proper accompanying documents and personal documents in accordance with procedure, then the elderly parent can be granted status. These requests are submitted at the MOI closest to the applicant’s residence. Upon approval of the application, the parent will be given a B-1 visa/work permit for one year, which may extended for another year (an elderly parent over the age of 70 will be given a B-1 visa for one year only). After two years with a B-1 work permit, the parent can receive an A-5 visa for temporary residency for two years, and after those two years, he/she will be granted permanent residency.
There are also many cases in which the foreign parent does not meet one or more of the criteria but there are still humanitarian reasons to justify the examination of his/her application. These cases are handled by a special committee at the MOI. The aim of this committee is to examine different humanitarian requests that do not meet all of the required criteria. For example, an application, for an elderly parent who has another child abroad with whom they are no longer in contact, will not be rejected outright but will be sent to the special committee that will then give a recommendation to the head of the Immigration Authority.
Occasionally, cases that were denied by the special committee are reviewed by the court because of administrative appeals. The Supreme Court ruled that the procedure of the MOI is reasonable and proportionate (see Administrative Appeal 05/11538 Netyosov v. Minister of the Interior, (unpublished 25.11.2007) Administrative decision 07/7422 Alexandrovna v. Ministry of Interior (unpublished, 2.7.2008). The court intervenes in the decisions of the MOI only when there are special grounds for it. The court is not interested in intervening in the decisions of the MOI if it is not required. This can be seen by the words of Judge Yigal Marzel in Administrative decision 10-06-39962 Aramdie Wolderlbanos v. The Ministry of Interior:
“I agree with the respondent’s position, regarding the granting of status to an elderly parent outside of the framework of procedure, it can be done only in exceptional cases or under special humanitarian considerations.” This is the case because the appeal is a departure from the respondent’s usual policy (see administrative decision 10/7765 Abdoliov v. Ministry of Interior (unpublished, 31.1.2001), and once the procedure has been found reasonable, one should not look at clause 17c in the procedure as allowing additional procedures.
While the court usually gives a narrow interpretation, meaning the court rules in favor of the MOI and does not allow the elderly parent to immigrate, there are cases in which the court gave a broad interpretation and ruled against the MOI and in favor of the elderly parent. This occurred even in cases where the petitioners did not meet the criteria, for example, the criteria of “alone.” See for example (Administrative decision (Tel-Aviv) 06/2053 Valeria v. Minister of Interior (18.7.2007) Administrative decision (Tel-Aviv) 06/1153 Alhonov v. Ministry of Interior 29.6.2006) In these cases, the court explained that losing contact with another child abroad was a justifiable reason to examine the request favorably.
It should be emphasized that cases in which the requests for status are approved in which the parent does not meet all of the criteria are few, and only when there are strong humanitarian grounds and evidence to justify the approval of the applications. In some of these cases, the Israeli citizen had to appeal the MOI’s decision in order to obtain approval of the application.
Summary and Conclusions
The procedural regulations granting status to an elderly parent are appropriate and should be applied for moral and humanitarian reasons. The procedure attempts to balance between humanitarian considerations and the need of the state not to accept foreign nationals for economic and political reasons. The discretion given to the MOI in these cases leads to appeals to the court to apply proper discretion. In our view, there are circumstances that justify the MOI to allow the elderly citizen to immigrate. We believe that a difficulty with evidence and various political considerations leads to a constrained interpretation.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.
This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia.